Review: Force 10 From Navarone (1978)

Composer: Ron Goodwin

Label: Film Score Monthly

Catalogue Nr.: FSM Vol. 9, Nr. 4

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Force 10 From Navarone was the follow-up to the fictitious 1960's WWII adventure blockbuster The Guns Of Navarone (1961). After their successful mission on the island of Navarone, Maj. Mallory and SSgt. Miller are send on a hunt for the German mole Nikolai who almost blew up their previous mission. In order to find and kill Nikolai, both are joining a special unit, called 'Force 10' lead by Col. Barnsby, on their own secret mission in Yugoslavia deep within the heart of Hitler's occupation in eastern Europe. The involuntary team has to work together not only to find the mole but to accomplish Col. Barnsby's mission as well, which is blowing up an important bridge to break the German supplies. It was the first film to cast newborn-star Harrison Ford in a leading role during his post-Star Wars success and the last to be completed by veteran actor Robert Shaw, who would die only one year later. The WWII film was sold as an adventure movie to cash-in on the Star Wars (1977) wave but that and the league of first-class actors could not save the film from becoming a total box office weakling even though it is really entertaining to see Harrison Ford kicking Nazi-butts long before his role as Indiana Jones.

The score:

Saying that British composer Ron Goodwin was stuck with these pointless WWII adventures actually seems a bit too harsh because he did such excellent work on all of them, be it 633 Squadron (1964), Where Eagles Dare (1968) or Battle Of Britain (1969). His amazing talent in this field left the makers of any comparable forthcoming film with only one choice: Get that guy to score your mediocre WWII film to give it some class. Goodwin's last assignment to the follow-up of The Guns Of Navarone (1961) marked the second time that bond-director Guy Hamilton turned to Goodwin after their successful collaboration on Battle Of Britain (1969). Goodwin continued where scoring-pioneer Dimitri Tiomkin left off and provides a dynamite main theme that is loosely based on Tiomkin's classic, rousing theme composition for the previous film while Goodwin also provides a short motif for the Nazis. The majority of the underscore is a mix of suspense and adventure with the composer's typically trademark sound for the genre, including sudden brass attacks or driving trombones and an often playful nature.

Before the main theme is about to kick off, there comes the summary of the previous film in "Prologue" that starts with grim trombones performing Goodwin's 4-note Nazi-motif, continues with calm strings and builds up to a series of tension-building 1-note brass fanfares that rise in scale and are a pure Goodwin-trademark. After the prologue's climax, the striking main theme explodes to accompany the film's "Main Title" sequence. As pointed out before, the melody resembles Tiomkin's main theme from the previous film without relying entirely on it. Goodwin's triumphant theme is more of a march with a quickly descending 5-note brass figure that slightly touches Tiomkin's melody while the theme's bridge is almost as elegant as a ballet with dancing woodwinds and strings - all with a very Slavic overall sound. Suspense music follows in "The Fight" with nervous strings and rising bass fanfares resembling the main theme. As the team takes off in a plane to Yugoslavia, the music becomes glorious with a triumphant British sound at the beginning of "Take Off / In Yugoslavia" before dramatic air combat music based on "The Fight" follows as the plane is attacked by two German Messerschmidts and the team has to parachute.

Suspense music follows again in "Hiding" with strings quietly lurking around in the back just like the German soldiers on the look for the parachuters. "Morning / Met Comrades" brings a beautifully gentle, almost classically-sounding rendition of the main theme for strings to greet the rising sun before playful tones for percussion and brass suddenly take over when a group of partisans jumps out of their cover to meet the team. These partisans bring them to their base backed up by a powerful reprise of the triumphant main theme heard in "Arrival / Surprise" as the citizens of the base greet the team but the Nazi motif suddenly strikes as the partisans reveal themselves as Nazi-allies and imprison the team. The Nazi-motif dominates the cue "Kill Them" while "Where Is It / Being Followed / Here We Go Again" comes with a more playful and light-hearted tone for woodwinds to create a comic mood as Barnsby and Mallory are fooling a group of Nazis to escape. "Captured" is a rather uninteresting suspense cue that continues into "Not Dead / The Escape Begins" which features clusters of tremolo strings that Goodwin liked to use in order to raise tension. A solo flute hits more light-hearted tones at the beginning of "It Worked / How To Blow It Up / Explosion" before a sad and heavy tone for strings takes over in "She's Dead / You Need Me / The Tank".

Tension returns in "Trapped" with a steady flute line playing against tremolo strings and sudden brass outbursts of the Nazi-motif. "He's A Spy" accompanies the execution of the traitor Nikolai with pounding brass outbursts and menacing strings before an excellent moment for muted trumpet fanfares, woodwinds and tremolo strings brings relief. A nice, whirling flute duet follows at the beginning of "A Little Diversion / Come On Blackie" which goes into suspense music for edgy strings to underline the sharp dramatic of a knife fight. Snare drums are heard throughout "Setting The Charge / Out Of Time" to follow the arrival of German troops at the bridge - Col. Barnsby's main target. Goodwin inserts a new, glorious fanfare-motif that brings a nice twist to the main theme with prominent use of horns to indicate the victory of the team. The actual destruction of the bridge is accompanied by a rousing finale for full orchestra in "Down Bridge" while Goodwin occasionally throws in the Nazi-motif as the German troops are trapped on the bridge and try to escape but ultimately fall to death. A longer reprise of the "Main Title" with the victory-motif replacing the main theme's bridge is triumphantly closing Ron Goodwin's last score for the genre before his passing in 2003.

 

RATING:

Score as heard in the film: 87%

Score as heard on CD: 81%

TOTAL: 84%

 

The presentation:

Film Score Monthly surely made many film score fan's dreams come true with the release of Goodwin's score for Force 10 From Navarone that has been in high demand for a long time. According to Lukas Kendall, the situation of this score has long been uncertain but despite all issues he made it happen and deserves a huge credit for that. Stereo tapes of the score survived in Ron Goodwin's personal collection and the score shines with a new vitality on this CD. Even the artwork, which has been a source of complaints on several earlier FSM releases, has notably improved as well and especially the front cover shines with a beautiful painting and individual look. The liner notes and booklet contents are once again top notch as always.

Presentation by the Label: 90%

 

Summary:

Ron Goodwin's score for Force 10 From Navarone, while not being a masterpiece like Tiomkin's work for the previous film The Guns Of Navarone (1961), is a worthy addition to the composer's long list of WWII adventure scores. The composer offers a striking, triumphant main theme that comes as a perfect example of how to provide a sequel with a musical signature that resembles the original's main theme without copying it note for note. The rest is pure Goodwin in war mood which sometimes results in weaker suspense cues like "Captured" or "Not Dead / The Escape Begins" but many excellent moments such as "Main Title", "Take Off / Yugoslavia", "Morning / Meet The Team" or "Down Bridge" perfectly compensate these weak spots. Fans of Goodwin and WWII film scores have demanded a release of this music for a long time. Well, here it is and comes highly recommended. 

Review by Andreas Creutzburg

 

                   Tracklisting:

01. Prologue (01:18)
02. Main Title (01:54)
03. Fight (01:53)
04. Take-Off/In Yugoslavia (04:25)
05. Hiding (03:05)
06. Morning/Met Comrades (01:36)
07. Arrival/Surprise (01:10)
08. Kill Them (01:20)
09. Where Is It/Being Followed/Here We Go Again (03:28)
10. Captured (01:22)
11. Not Dead/The Escape Begins (05:07)
12. It Worked/How to Blow It Up/Explosion (01:06)
13. She's Dead/You Need Me/The Tank (01:46)
14. Trapped (02:51)
15. He's a Spy (02:13)
16. A Little Diversion/Come On, Blackie (03:11)
17. Setting the Charge/Out of Time (04:21)
18. You Did It (01:45)
19. Down Bridge (03:07)
20. End Credits (03:15)

 

 

 

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